Tools, training and company culture drive productivity, says UK worker survey

New research from ClickUp seeks to uncover the trends that determine whether a company has high or low levels of productivity.

Workers reviewing tablets on a desk

Business leaders who are looking to grow their budgets for employee training and resources now have some hard numbers they can use to make their pitch to upper management. According to new research from work management software company ClickUp, companies which provide their employees with the right technology, resources, and training are considerably more likely to experience high levels of productivity.

The survey was conducted by Sapio Research in October 2022 among 2,282 individuals across the UK in a variety of occupations, and ranked UK businesses across a number of productivity indicators.

In order to establish if a company was demonstrated levels of high or low productivity, Sapio created an organisational productivity model based on survey responses to a number of productivity-related areas.

The research shows that 88% of respondents who work for a highly productive business believe they are provided with the right technology and resources to do their jobs, compared to only 48% of people in low-productivity organisations. Similarly, 84% of people in high-productivity organisations said they receive enough training to help them with their role, a figure which drops to 42% in companies that were deemed to have low levels of productivity.

Natasha Wallace, international people operations partner at ClickUp, said that tools and training are often caught up in cost savings and time-saving, meaning that the onboarding process for new hires is often cut short and deprioritized due to organisational pressures.

“Safeguarding development time for new hires and providing continuous learning and professional development throughout an employee's career journey will increase productivity and help workers adapt to achieve the business' goals,” she said.

Wallace added that it's widely accepted that workers want to be empowered to do their best work and continue to grow within an organisation — meaning it’s important for businesses to remember that setting up teams for success is crucial to the overall needs of a business.

Productivity tracking can work

Despite widespread criticism around tools that are used to track and monitor employees at work, the research identified a strong relationship between the adoption of so-called productivity measurement techniques and high levels of productivity within a business.

According to the survey, 44% of high-productivity organisations track employee time, while 36% track task progress and completion. Twenty-eight percent of respondents from high-productivity businesses said their employer tracked their performance against set objectives and deliverables.

While research has shown that employees are more productive when they understand the role their job plays in furthering their employer’s wider goals, companies need to be careful that checking in with employees doesn’t tip over into intrusive monitoring.

Wallace acknowledged that output and results are much more important than the number of hours spent at work, which comes down to trust between employers and workers.

While some industries such as legal and finance are more dependent on time tracking, she said it’s important that employees more generally don’t feel micromanaged or monitored as that will likely harm productivity and employee satisfaction.

“After all, productivity isn't just a matter of completing items on an arbitrary to-do list. Especially in a flexible work environment, transparency and openness are crucial,” Wallace said.

Cohesion, communication drive productivity

In addition to being provided with the right tools and training, 94% of respondents from high-productivity businesses said they had high levels of team cohesion. At low-productivity companies, that figure was only 13%, highlighting just how important communication and collaboration is for driving productivity.

Another key finding was the importance of having open channels of communication which, according to the survey, was found in 91% of high-productivity businesses. The importance of this is further underscored by the fact it is only present in 8% of low-productivity organisations, representing the biggest gap between low- and high-productivity businesses out of all the metrics tracked in the ClickUp study.

A strong company culture was another characteristic that was present in a lot of the high-productivity companies identified by the survey. At the most productive business, 46% of respondents said they rarely have to work overtime, a figure that drops to 13% for low productivity organisations.

Additionally, 44% of employees in the UK’s best-performing organisations believe their high productivity levels improve job satisfaction, while 42% feel it improves their work-life balance, and 40% believe it makes them feel more motivated. 

However, only 29% of respondents from low productivity organisations believe that their productivity levels improve their job satisfaction.

As many companies embrace hybrid and remote work, Wallace said leaders must also rethink how to cultivate a united company culture. For example, communicating clearly to all employees, regardless of location, and building a company culture where asynchronous communication is the norm allows employees to collaborate efficiently with teammates in different time zones.

For today's workforce, Wallace noted that open communication, empathy, and honesty between managers and their teams have never been more important.

“In today's market, employees are drawn to companies that will empower them to do their jobs efficiently,” Wallace said. “Employers must protect employee productivity by eliminating cross-functional silos and carefully curating the number of digital tools required to get the job done, and I think the employers who prioritize transparency, knowledge sharing, and app consolidation will win the war for talent.”


Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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